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Men's Health

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It's Never Too Late to Stop Procrastinating

You can break the cycle of putting off important tasks you can be doing today.

How to Kick the Habit continued...

Just knowing you do it is not enough to make you stop, Knaus emphasizes. "You may know a six-pack [of beer] a day is bad for you, but will this make you stop?" he asks. "In a sense, procrastinators are optimists; they think they can escape by putting things off. Change is a process not an event."

Some suggestions for breaking the habit:

  • Knaus recommends "mapping out" the process of change. Why are you uncomfortable about digging into a project or changing your behavior? Write down the reasons.
  • You know yourself. What diversions or mañana behaviors will you probably adopt?
  • Then question those. If you say "later is better," ask yourself why. "And why," Knaus says, "do you need to be better to do this? Save the better state for a better task. You need to recognize the hogwash!"
  • When you feel actual physical resistance, when every bone is your body is resisting the task, force yourself to put one foot in front of the other. "This is similar to overcoming irrational fears," Knaus notes.
  • Break up the task into segments. Do one a day. If it's your taxes, call the accountant one day. Then find all the income statements the next. Then divide the receipts into categories the next. And so on. "I always feel I can do anything for five minutes," McMeekin says. "So I set a timer. Once I start, I usually go over five minutes and may finish the job."
  • Involve others, invoke a buddy system. This increases your chances of doing the task, McMeekin says.
  • Set a reward for yourself once the job is done.

"The habit of resisting the feeling of recoiling will become inherent," promises Knaus. "I believe when brain scans are perfected, they will show that your brain will change -- structural changes will follow behavioral changes."

And the best approach of all? "Ask yourself if, in the end, this is something you need to do," McMeekin says. Maybe it could be delegated. Often we need to delegate."

One catch: You can't put off the decision to delegate.

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